Designing an office that’s responsive to company and employee needs in the COVID-19 era has become an increasingly urgent need. Depending on where a company is located, local statutes might have employees at home, in the office, or in a hybrid of the two. As HR departments and company heads look towards the post-pandemic future, will life at the office go back to business at usual?

Meeting New Employee Expectations

A recent survey by Upwork found that 27% of the American workforce will be remote in 2021. That’s an incredible stat, but what’s more significant than employees staying home from the office is how these employees are shifting their lives to this new normal. While many are probably conscious that employers tend to be wary of long-term remote work, Americans are on the move—millions are relocating away from the cities where their offices are located. They’re realigning their relationships with caregivers, schools, and their families. They’re also shifting how they work with their colleagues.

Global marketing agency R/GA told The New Yorker that their employee surveys, sent out periodically over the course of six months of remote work during 2020, found that employees were frazzled from working remotely during lockdowns and school closures, but also that collaboration, empathy for one another, and team spirit were all on the rise. Their ideal office of the future, the surveys found, included more “team-oriented spaces” for informal collaboration.

Social Distancing Concerns

Those team-oriented spaces might have to wait until the pandemic is in the rear-view mirror, though. Meeting CDC guidelines for employee spacing continues to challenge office administrators. Companies which are moving back towards on-site work will need to find adaptive resources for their office configurations. For some, that includes moving to open-plan offices without assigned seating, allowing workers to distance themselves depending on the day’s attendance or meeting schedules.

For others, that might mean investing in apps which allow employees to book desks or rooms from their phones. Especially useful in a hybrid remote/office workspace, employees could check ahead of time to see how busy their office is going to be, and make their plans accordingly.

Digital Workspace

Moving essential services to cloud-based programs and investing in productivity tools is a key aspect of many 2021 office plans. For cloud services, the shift makes sense—companies which have adapted to remote work and remote/office hybrids can offer their employees secure access to the programs they need to do their jobs, no matter where they’re working. Productivity tools include presentation and office suite products which, again, can be used through the cloud to allow convenient remote work.

If remote work continues to be part of your office solution, there are opportunities to streamline your Human Resources functions with WBD. With easy-access employee portals, mobile responsive designs, and an innovative HR dashboard, it’s the perfect solution to keeping payroll, onboarding, benefits, and other HR functions rolling no matter where your employees choose to work from. Contact WBD today for more information, or click here to see what we do for companies large and small.